Friday, January 08, 2010

Le Train Bleu, Paris, 2nd Jan

Le Train Bleu is a very grand restaurant to be found in the somewhat unlikely location of the Gare de Lyon, Paris. On Saturday, travelling down to Burgundy, AM and I went there for lunch. Having braved the subterranean dystopia of the RER system, we lugged our suitcases up the imposing staircase and through the revolving door. We were shown to the cloakroom where we handed in our bags and coats and tried to keep out of the way of waiters pounding down the red carpet at high speed carrying trays on their shoulders. It felt like being on the hard shoulder of the M1.

Eventually we were shown to our table, which had a gap of approximately 2 inches between it and its neighbour. I had to squeeze through this narrow aperture and nearly sent the other table's carafe of water flying. Once seated, however, things calmed down and we were able to take in the grandeur of our surroundings. It's a very impressive room, full of over-the-top decorations, enormous chandeliers, big windows offering views over the station and the concourse outside, and lots of drapery.

As we only had an hour before the TGV, we opted for just a main course. AM had grilled sea bass with a risotto pancake (not actually anything like a pancake, more a normal cake) and artichoke, while I had roast leg of lamb with a potato gratin made with Fourme d'Ambert, a blue cheese. This and a half bottle of Cotes de Rhone set us back 40 euros each.

There was a real sense of occasion at le Train Bleu, with the food being brought to the table covered with a big silver lid which was then dramatically whisked off. Further preparation - deboning and carving respectively - was done at the table. My lamb was good but the potato gratin was the star of the show, while AM seemed happy with his sea bass.

I did have a couple of gripes - we weren't offered any bread, unlike the tables on either side of us, and at the end it took a while to get the waiter's attention and get the bill. For somewhere so full of bustle, I found this quite surprising. And when we did eventually leave, there was nobody anywhere near the door to say goodbye to. I don't know if these blips in service were because we were 15 minutes later than our reservation, because we were only having one course, because we were English or if I was just being paranoid, which is entirely possible. All in all, I'm glad we went, but I shan't be going back in a hurry. Next time, I'll go for a club sandwich in the Big Ben Bar, and see if the cat's still there.

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